"It is wonderful to be able experience art without understanding how it was meant or what makes it good." (Kim Boekbinder said that during an interview I did with her) I might not have the biggest knowledge about music but I have a great passion for it. Passion is what counts.
I live in Berlin, Germany (born, raised and still resident) and this is my personal blog about music and other things that cross my way. Things I love to be exact. And even though I am German and my English is still not perfect, this blog is in English.
'Did this crappy day finally killed me? Did I end up in heaven for some reason?' Those were my first thought when all of a sudden an ocean of good looking, bearded men made their way through the audience. Then all of them entered the stage. Yes, this could be heaven but a heaven on earth. I didn't die, I just went to watch Acollective last night. The seven piece band from Tel Aviv squeezed themselves on the tiny stage of the Badeschiff in Berlin. On a sun deck without sun and with a bit of rain but ‘the rain makes the rainbow’ as their support, Hanna Leess, sang in one of her songs. Well, sun is also needed but with such an enthusiastic audience and such an happy band, you don’t need any real sun. The rainbow will come anyway, in your heart or something… does that even makes sense? I basically want to say it was a fucking awesome concert! One of the best of this year if not the best. I haven’t danced so much in a while. It was perfect.
Within what felt like 20 minutes, they played 16 songs and an encore and were actually about 90 minutes on stage. A balanced mix of new song from their new album “Pangaea” and the first one “Onwards”. For the first few songs I was almost wondering if they gave up swapping their instruments. But the longer they played, the more they changed where everyone was and what everyone played. Do they need a warm up for that? In the end it was a beautiful, loud mess. Especially during the two last songs: ‘Simon Says’ of the normal set and ‘Girls’ of the encore. Both of their first album ‘Onwards’. Electronic devices were being removed in order to play on its stand with drum sticks and stuff like that. But I think my favourite moment of the whole evening was when they played ‘Happiest of all Memorial Days’. I love this song.
It’s funny in a way: I heard many of their influences, I didn’t heard on the album. Not sure why but during the concert I heard elements of Hip Hip, Blues, Pop, most of all Rock and many other music styles. They are certainly louder and more of a rock band live. Many other things that happened during the concert are a bit blurry in my memory today but one thing remains: the feeling of absolute happiness and longing for their next concert. I can’t wait.
Here are some mediocre photos which don’t show the awesomeness of the concert at all:
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Just in case Roy Rieck is reading this: That guy I mentioned before the interview with the toys and stuff is called Sxip Shirey (listen: http://sxip.bandcamp.com/) :)
The 400th post! I’ll dedicate this one to one of my newest loves Naked Lunch. This band was a bit like a puzzle for me, solved when I saw them live. Even though they have been in this business for over 20 years, I just discovered them. They are from Austria, speak my language and are absolutely amazing. I met their singer Oliver Welter for an interview earlier this year. I have linked to those interviews a little while ago but still feel the need to explain my fascination with this band to everyone who doesn’t speak German and can’t understand google translate.
So, why was this band a puzzle for me? At the beginning I found their music ok, the album “All Is Fever” had some songs I enjoyed on it. Welter and I sat down for about 45 minutes to talk about their music and other things of life. Afterwards their music made a lot more sense and the ethics of the band or Oliver himself made a huge impression on me. It was hard to just stop listening to their music for weeks.
Nevertheless there was one thing I couldn’t really connect in my brain. I couldn’t imagine this smart man, Oliver Welter, who sat opposite of me in a hotel lobby, going on a stage and playing a rock show (despite he told me in our interview that he likes doing sports). Until he played one. It was during the first minute of “Keep It Hardcore”, the first song of the set and the album, when I found the last puzzle piece. The way the song is build, it’s like a warm up. Welter started to dance and the rest of the band started to play. I haven’t noticed it until that point how much this song can bring you into their cosmos. It’s like opening a curtain.
Dramaturgy is part of their concept – it plays a big role in the order of the songs on the album, too. This probably comes from their background in theatre. On “All Is Fever” they start with a boom. The last song “The Funeral” brings you back down to earth and in between you go through many emotions, highs and lows. And despite of what their label says and what may be easier for the listener they stick to what they say is important to them. “Unfortunately we often shoot ourself in the foot but we don’t care. It is what it is. We can’t do it differently. We create our cosmos.”, said Oliver.
Oliver works together with Herwig Zamernik for over 20 years. Oliver writes the songs on piano and guitar and then Zamernik comes in. They start to arrange it as good as they want/can on the computer, pushing it into different directions as Oliver explained it to me. “We don’t rehearse.” I forgot to ask why. Of course they’ll find out how to play the songs and rehearse before they go on tour. Alongside Oliver and Zamernik there are Stefan Deidenberger and Alex Jezdinsky, the only one not living in Kärnten, Austria.
When I wasn’t dancing deeply sunken into their music I looked at the stage seeing people smiling at each other, the audience and themselves. There was this visible joy of playing live. The audience consisted of fans, friends, family and joy. The songs have changed a little but Oliver told me that they’re not Elton John who has to recreate the songs exactly like they are on the album. Of course they kept some key sounds but overall it was much louder and much more Rock than on the album. About two weeks ago they have released a video for “At The Lovecourt” which gives you a little idea of the energy on their concerts:
Hans Schabus, who is a well known artist and who created the cover artwork with his wife, says “when you hear this music you ought to cover yourself with something” and put a photo of a thermal blanket on the cover. After Oliver told me this story I totally felt in love with the artwork because it makes so much more sense. Especially with some of the darker and sadder songs like “Dreaming Hiroshima” and “The Funeral”. Other songs make you think about your own life – at least for me. “Over It” is one of them. It kind of feels like a warning to not waste your life even if a lot of crap happened.
And then there was this point during the concert where tears where filling my eyes out of sheer beauty of the lines I heard. It was when Oliver sang - and just with Deisenberger on keyboard - the last verse of “Hammer It All” which beauty I haven’t noticed before*:
“Don’t buy me no roses
Get me a pillow instead
I always wanted to sleep by your side
Not only on occasions
but every night
be quick my darling
before it’s too late“
But these lines are taken out of context – the beginning of the song is not as beautiful. It’s rather the opposite.
Oliver’s band mates urge him to go one step further when he writes songs, to leave his own comfort zone and do some straight talking**. While in some German music styles like Hamburger Schule it is the look from the outside, Oliver said that he couldn’t do that. He could only look at things from the inside. And he is well good at it. Personally I haven’t found it too much or too embarrassing or anything. There is this feeling of honesty in his lyrics which I enjoy.
Next week I’ll tell you more about “The Sun”, a song from “All Is Fever”, and why I enjoy it so much. And probably all the things I forgot now. Oh, yes, the ethics. Throughout the whole interview I did with Oliver there was one thing “shimmering” through in his words. They do the things the way they think they are right, not because of career reasons or for the fans or anyone. Just for themselves. They want to be happy with their art. And is one of the many reasons why I started to love this band in the last couple of month.
Thank you for reading,
…still listening to Naked Lunch’s “All Is Fever” (please notice the metallic effect of this poster booklet - looks awesome, doesn’t it?!):
*I just need to read lyrics and I didn’t had them for a long time. That’s why I think a decent booklet is something good.
**Is this correct English at all?
(From left to right: Oliver, Deisenberger, Zamernik, Jezdinsky.)
Because Tall Ships is their support band on Nada Surf’s tour through Germany, Austria and Austria. You often hear people moaning about support bands and how useless they are. Well, I can tell you that you want to see the support this time - they are an amazing live experience. I know I am almost too late to tell you about this tour but sickness got in my way.
After two EPs Tall Ships have just released their début album “Everything Touches”. Once more they have created Math Rock hymns at the finest - it’s complex, occasionally playful melodies, it’s controlled chaos and sound explosions and some rock guitars. What I like is their liability to scientific bits in their lyrics and the pictures they use in them. You can already find this tendency in titles like “Phosphorescence”, “Murmurations” or “Ode To Ancestors”. Behind those titles one will find songs about love with wonderful lines such as „Because within you every particle is perfect, and your beating heart is the sum of many working parts. You are a triumph of natural selection, every mutation leading to your perfection…“.
I love the final and most epic song “Murmurations”. The song seems to reflect life up to a certain part. In the beginning you can hear something that sound like echo of the baby’s heart (you know when they check that of a pregnant), the blithy childhood and slowly growing up and the the wild years as a young adult. And the you find love, settle down a bit become calmer and in the end - as the children voice my suggests - start a family. It’s just amazing how Tall Ships build this song up layer by layer up to the climax and then collapse. Just beautiful.
With “Books” and “Ode To Ancestors” they have reworked two older songs. They brought both songs to the next level. They have grown a lot since their self titled EP and “There Is Nothing But Chemistry” without changing their sound too much. I think their sound became more organic, more like a whole than every before. When you watch them live, they are a bit greater in every way. It is simply impressive how they create their songs live with just the three of them. They all play everything that is on stage. They rotate so much on stage that you could get dizzy.
Here is their newest video for “Gallop”:
And a bit of Nada Surf just in case you don’t know them either or if you have forgotten how they sound. It’s „Waiting For Something“ from their current album “The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy”:
Tour dates of Nada Surf and Tall Ships:
10.11 Karlstorbahnhof, Heidelberg (D)
11.11 Bahnhof Fischbach, Friedrichshafen (D)
12.11 Hirsch,Nürnberg (D)
13.11 Rosenhof, Osnabrück (D)
14.11 C-Club, Berlin (D)
15.11 Meier Music Hall, Braunschweig (D)
16.11 Jazzhaus,Freiburg (D)
17.11 Zeche, Bochum (D)
Nada Surf http://www.nadasurf.com
Tall Ships http://www.wearetallships.co.uk/
While everyone is talking about Amanda Palmer, we could as well check out the project Brian Viglione’s called Gentlemen & Assassins. I have listened to both records a lot in the last days as I have been writing about them for the German online magazine FastForward. I don’t want to compare the two albums, I just save some time by writing about both in the same blog post.
It’s amazing what Amanda Palmer archived with the Kickstarter campaign - I mean she got almost 1.2 million dollar for her new record and her creativity is amazing. However, I just have a problem with the new record “Theatre Is Evil”. I find it a tad boring and the reason is quite simple: whenever I listen to it, I try to figure out where I have heard the melody of the song before and that happens with almost with every song. I know, I know, it’s about the lyrics and what she says between the lines but if the sound of a song can’t catch me, it is most often very difficult to keep listening to it more than once. She is around in some 80’s influenced music and Pop, Punk, Rock and a bit of Classic here and there. Well, the introduction may give a hint towards this. It reminds of something of the time of the Cabaret.
The first few songs “The Killing Type”, “Do It With A Rockstar” and “Want It Back” are actually pretty catchy. I really like the little reference to Mackie Messer of Brechts “Dreigroschenoper” in “The Killing Type”- one sign of Palmers love of German literature. “Want It Back” reminds me of some Tegan and Sara song. One of the songs I find most difficult to listen to is “Grown Man Cry” - it just reminds of a really bad 80’s ballad - one of those kinds which you don’t even want to listen to on the radio anymore. Not even the lyrics are helping me out there. The following song “Trout Heart Replica” is one of my most favourites. It a beautiful song, I love the piano and string arrangements. Beautiful has to be seen relatively as it sounds very chased and unsettled. Superficially seen it is a song that criticise mass fish keeping and their killing. Funnily the one animal that some “vegetarians” still eat and which living conditions are just as worse as the conditions for other animals but they are less cute or something but that’s a different story. You can fully sink into the song and then the instrumental piece “A Grand Theft Intermission” will jolt you out of your thoughts. After this intermission it continues like beforehand. Well, the album is build like a theatre piece - stirring parts alternate with softer melodies (like “The Bed Song”) and end in an ultimate climax. For “Olly Olly Oxen Free” they use the whole wall of sound they have to offer and eventually you will be released into silence.
As expected she delivers a lot to think about but the melodies are way too familiar. That is the reason why I can’t really enjoy the album: I miss some interesting and innovative melodies to underline the lyrics to catch my interest for longer. It’s the lyrics that lift the album from mediocrity but if you just listen to it in passing, it’s really not more than mediocrity. You can download a free or pay as much as you like version of it, find lots of tour dates all around the world and information on how you can join her on stage on her website: http://www.amandapalmer.net.
As I already said Gentlemen & Assassins have their first album out. Next to Brian Viglione the band consists of two of my favourite musicians: Sxip Shirey and Elyas Khan. The album “Mother Says We’re innocent” is without a doubt one of the most interesting and fascinating albums the year had to offer until now. The reason is relatively easy, it’s the combination of very unique musicians who create a one of a kind sound. It is almost rare to find such a one of a kind band these days.
For those who haven’t read all the words I have already written about Sxip Shirey: he create music out of things that make noise like glass bowls with marbles, bells, penny whistles, guitars with paper clips and so on. And not only he creates music but he creates stories and landscapes and such. Adding Elyas and Brian to this picture sets it into a Rock Folk Punk frame. Another thing that is very difficult to describe is Elyas voice. Still. I have seen him so often and listened to his music so much and yet I lack words that could jsut nearly fit. Someone once said he sounds like “melted fucking chocolate over bourbon” and that kind of fits. Also, I always thought that you can hear all his roots in his voice. You can hear London, New York, India, Punk and all of that. In addition to singing many of the songs, he also plays bass or guitar.
What you can still hear is a reference to former times when it fits like in “Grandpa Charlie”. The music fits the title, it sounds like when our Grandparents were still young. “I Live In New York City” is an older song of Sxip, sounds like New York and with the band it is converted into a Rock version. “Istanbul” draws a picture of the city which even works when you have never been there. It kind of shows a traditional and a modern side of the city which seem to be in conflict with but still can exist next to each other. Some of older songs of Nervous Cabaret, Elyas band, got a new paintjob as well. What I like about Elyas lyrics is that he has his very own way to put what is going on in the world in his own words.
The album just never ceases to amaze me - it’s thought provoking and at the same time a pleasure to listen to and you can also dance if you want to. If you fancy watching them you have the chance today and the day after tomorrow in Berlin. Brian won’t be there but therefore Romain Vincente will join them for the drums:
20. September, Wild at Heart
22. September, Knochenbox
Last but not least an impression of G&A live:
Thank you for reading,
It’s been some busy couple of weeks and I still have more to write and more to do then my time allows me to do. That, however, doesn’t stop me from doing ridiculously short journeys like the one I’ll tell you about right now. I have been to London last weekend for round about 30 hours just to watch some bands playing a little all-dayer called Alcopopalooza. Alcopop! Records who make this little event every year is by far my favourite record label - not only because they have a great selection of released records and are truely one of the most creative label I know when it comes to how the releases are “shaped”. They have also Jack Pop as their owner - he is simply great and his passion for what he is doing and the music is amazing and - yes ,I am going to say it - inspiring. And also the love among the bands and the bands have a lot of love for Jack. Whenever I go to an Alcopop Event like Alcopopalooza or the Christmas Party, it’s completely different to a “normal” concert or a “normal” all-dayer. It’s like a family reunion or something.
Just like last year it took place at the Brixton Windmill, the ticket came with a free BBQ, I got lost on the way to the Windmill, the rain stopped more or less the minute I arrived at the venue and the night buses back “home*” weren’t too bad. Same procedure as every year. Well, not music wise.
The day started with five acoustic acoustic acts outside. The first one to play in the little beer garden behind the Windmill was the man himself: Jack Pop. Handsome of face and voice. The eyes turned towards the horizon. I swear I saw rainbows and unicorns while he sang. He was as he said not on the actual line up and a pre warming party. He covered Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants” - if you haven’t heard his version you have missed out badly.
Dexy and his Rock’n’Roll was up next. I keep seeing him playing the White Trash here in Berlin - he and his music would fit perfectly into this environment of rock. Dexy has the charm of the old days but without being antiquated. I wonder how he sounds with his band “The Hand Me Downs” - there are videos and stuff but I guess they are way more rock then a video can show.
The Super Mallia Brothers (aka Warren and Martin Mallia of The Attika State, both played acoustic guitar) were amazing. I love The Attika State and they are amazing acoustic as well. I still wonder why Warren actually bothers to use a microphone. He sings/shouts with so much passion that it is actually useless. he played a blend of old and new songs. I think “Recycle”, “Sound of The Stereo” and from the ThreEPeople “6 Shots” were among them. For me it is still like the first time I heard them - their songs sound like the pure passion for music and it obviously doesn’t matter if the play with a full band or “just” as a two piece. I was sad to hear that their drummer left the band. I heard that very often lately. Drummers are a precious thing (as a friend told me), aren’t they?
And we had a special watcher for this concert as well. The dog on the roof (actual dog on actual roof) was lurking around the corner to see who is making so much noise but he stayed calm. Phew.
Next up was Stephen from Tellison. Quite the opposite of Warren volume-wise seen. Rather quiet and rather wonderful as well. I don’t know too much of their music - I have “Collarbone” at home and love it. And also “Wasp’s Nest” of Alcopopular 3 and “Edith Wharton” from BSM ‘10 Collection but haven’t bought an album until now. I don’t know the reason**. I am sure he played the latter one I mentioned. I will mention him later once more. The little beer garden was crowded by that time. If you haven’t got there during the first few songs there was almost no change to get a spot where you could actually see him (and I am tall).
The last one to play outside was Alexei of Johnny Foreigner with his solo project Yr Friends. It’s was quite different to see and hear him doing a singer-songwriter kind of thing. Since he grew a bread (singer-songwriters do that as he said) his music was pretty good and very quiet. I have a theory: Men with Beard make good music. I have another proof for that.
Pretty much everyone stopped talking when he started to play a few songs because they wanted to listen or maybe they were afraid to be punched by him? Both things were possible.
This is him:
Unfortunately I missed half of Katie Malco's set because I sat outside eating the delicious BBQ and talking to friends (but better then last year where I missed a whole set of I think it was Delta/Alaska for that reason**). She was the first one to play inside the venue and once again I saw her without her band. The third time now. Another artist of that day where I start to wonder how she might sound like with a band. She played a new track which I missed unfortunately and of which I heard just good things. She is wonderfully sassy and I love her when she plays live. In a weird way she reminds me of that ideal world that never exist - not even on tv. For some weird reason I don't know myself I can hear her music in the background of a series like “Dawson's Creek” (like the first two seasons or so) - I mean that as a compliment even if it doesn't sound like it. Back in the days I loved Dawson's Creek. Maybe it's because of the Lisa Loeb cover she plays and belongs into this time for me.
I didn’t take a good photo this year, so I just take one of last years Alcopopalooza to bring some more beauty (I think she is so beautiful!) in this post:
The next band Her Parents were the first band to add some volume to the festival in the sense of being a pretty loud punk band who probably need some more time to grow together - the band is not that old, actually pretty new. They sounded not too bad from where I was (outside, chatting with friends) but not really something I was in the mood in to listen to.
One of the on going themes of Alcopopalooza were new songs - pretty much all of the bands played new songs I haven’t heard yet. Gunning For Tamar were no exception. Among others they also played their new single “Dark Sky Tourism” (going to be released on Alcopop! Records on 6th of August with a beautiful poster created by Lewes Herriot and an usb stick). There was some heavy Alcopop! and BSM beach ball exchange going on while they played. We got them for free with our concert ticket and as you can probably imagine: they were flying around. No head was save.
I just love their energy on stage. And the little keyboard melodies and the shouting. The thing with is band is: I just love them whether they play in a bedroom in Berlin or a club stage in London.There is not a special reason, it is just the whole package. That simple or not.
Jumping Ships played probably just one old song “Bad Outweighed The Good”. Also, they have a new drummer now. Well, “new” - it’s a little bit ago and I just saw him for the first time, so he is just new to me but he did a very good job. The band is in the middle of writing a new album and so we got to her a lot of new songs - some not even 2 weeks old and the upcoming album seems to be a very diverse one but still will be Jumping Ships.
I will just repeat a thing I said just one paragraph earlier: I love their energy on stage. I know how global that sounds and I don’t find better words to put it. They don’t use cables to connect their guitars to the amps or whatever so they can easily come off stage and disappear dancing in the crowd during the concert and be back to sing their words. Their “indie” rock is just lots of fun on stage!
After three years of abstinence from the live stage Sam Isaac came back for one (hopefully not) last acoustic concert. Well, the actual way he says it is “unforeseeable future”. He was accompanied by Sophie of My First Tooth on the backing vocals - she sang also on the 2009 release “Bears” and “When The Lights Went Out”. To be honest I haven’t known his music at all. I think he once was supported by The Candle Thieves before I were into them (there is a video of “Stars” of TCT online I watched like a billion times and I think it’s from the tour). The reason why I have kind of overseen him is probably because he stopped playing live about 3 years or so ago - that is the same time I got into TCT and Alcopop. I didn’t want to check out someone who just stopped. But why did no one told me to listen to his music? He is amazing! Everything is amazing: his voice, the melodies and the lyrics are striking. I love “Red Balloon”. I keep on summing "My Heart is a red balloon/coming up slowly to your room/and I felt right through the glass/covered in pieces of my past" in my head these days. The song can be found on his newest release “When The Light Went Out” (2012).
But what really gave me goosebumps was the bunch of people in front of the stage singing all the lyrics to the old songs at the top of their lungs including Stephen and Jack and Katie and everyone. They all seemed so insanely happy that he played that one show. It was so beautiful to watch!
And last but not least I finally got to see Stagecoach….it took only three years and a few attempts. When it takes so long to see a band live you love so much there are two things happening: You get all excited because you heard how awesome they are live and then you get scared because they might not be able to actually full fill the expectation you have build up over the years. I am happy to announce they have easily outdone all of my expectations. Now I feel dumb for being even scared for the glimpse of a second. They played a mix of old and new song. They played “Ice Age”, “We Got Tazers!”, “Headbangers Ball” and “Good Luck with your 45” among others. There was dancing, singing along, crown surfing, ripping the line to the airing off the ceiling. And there was Alexei of JoFo joining on guitar for the last song (45) and Owen of Elephants (I miss them dearly) “joining” on vocals. Amazement.
I loved the new songs they played - I had been immediately caught by them and doing my little thing I usually call dancing. Stagecoach have released a few singles and EP’s and have sounded quite differently one every single one. I mean they have catchy lyrics and melodies but they started being more Folk Pop went over to “Power Pop” and ended (so far) in a pretty rock direction. Luke (singer of Stagecoach) told me earlier that evening that he likes bands who are growing and changing in their sound with every album and that is exactly what Stagecoach does. Even though he told me into what direction the album goes, I can’t wait until it is finished and to really hear where they went.
There is another thing when you have waited three years to see a band and they have outdone all your expectations: you’re craving to see them again. I think they’re in the studio for the next months or so. They are a band to rather take some more time to make everything right and they want it then write an album in a rush and then it’ll end up being shit. I happily wait until they are finished.
Another funny side note: Apparently I have been to so many Alcopop events (it was the 3.) that another visitor noticed me from another event. I find that quite hilarious because I can’t imagine someone I have never talked to remembers me after 6 month. Anyway, it was the most wonderful evening and I absolutely couldn’t ask for more. I can just highly recommend to go to any of these events. The next one might probably be the Alcopop! Christmas Party or one of the festival appearances in close future (like 2000 Trees and Truck). And another side note: on the way back with the night buses I passed The Spice Of Life and The Silver Bullet. I have been to both last time I have been to London. I have been in The Spice Of Life to watch Matt Emery (solo but he is also drummer in Stagecoach) and The Silver Bullet for the Alcopop Christmas Party. So many good memories….
On a different note/ a tip for you when you’re in London: On Sunday I have been to the Picasso & Modern British Art exhibition at the Tate Britain as my lovely host recommended it to me. I found it quite interesting to see his influence on some other painters like Hockney, Moore, Bacon and Sutherland and their work. One of the most staggering paintings (for me at least) was Bacon’s “Crucifixions” (1933) based on Picasso’s “Three Dancers” (1925). It’s dark and light at the same time. It’s beautiful in a dark way. If you’re in London, go and see the exhibition but be aware that it is just running until the 15th of July.
Hope you had a good weekend, too. I am going to play with my brand new Alcopop Beachball I got on Saturday.
Thanks for reading,
Look at more photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/_heilewelt_/sets/72157630512213230/
*I call whatever place I sleep at “home”. Unless it is a hostel or a hotel or an airport.
**Maybe I am just an idiot?